Why would anyone get obsessed by the Takarazuka all-female theatre?

… particularly the otokoyaku who play the male roles.

“Recent Anglophone scholarship has addressed this issue at length through one specific focus- that of sexuality. Two opposing opinions emerge- that the main attraction of Takarazuka for its fans is sexual… (Robertson 1998b, 145) or that it is ‘a-sexual and a-gendered’ (Nakamura and Matsuo 2003, 59)…”

“The Takarazuka otokoyaku’s portrayal of masculinity is different from that of a typical man, sometimes seeming sexless or gender-neutral, sometimes deliberately seductive and erotic.” Gender Gymnastics pg9

Being both at the same time seems not only possible but also particularly East Asian, with most all-female J-pop and K-pop groups somehow both sexy and sexless. The real appeal lies in this, though, I reckon:

“For many women, Takarazuka is also a place of respite from a boring, unpleasant or unfulfilling everyday existence as a female in Japanese society.” pg 7

making it similar to the reki-jo (history girl) phenomenon more recently.

Why does the Takarazuka all-female theatre exist?

Unlike what I’d read about being set up simply to keep a private rail line busy, it seems that it didn’t come out of nowhere:

“Takarazuka is one example of a distinct genre within twentieth-century Japanese popular culture, the ‘all-female revue (shojo kageki)’, composed of a number of different performance groups with common features.” Gender Gymanistics pgs 3 and 4

Don’t have the book here to check if it’s exactly the same, but the whole thesis on which it was based seems to be available in pdf format for free here:




Why don’t Japanese cyclists obey the rules?

I keep on coming back to this question, because there seems to be such a change between Japanese on foot, on two wheels and on four. For example, cyclists jumping red lights where pedestrians and motorists never would, cycling with umbrellas, ignoring one-way signs on streets, and protests against changing a law against more than one child seat.

I wonder whether cycling became  popular during a chaotic period in Japanese period like Taisho or just after WWII.

Much more on this topic by clicking on the Japanese cyclists category above.

Why does political campaigning in Japan mainly consist of waving hands in white gloves from vans?

It’s mainly because so many other kinds of campaigning are restricted. No knocking on doors or ads are allowed, online social media campaigning was banned until this election, and even the number of leaflets one candidate can post is limited. The fact that it is usually just accompanied with “Vote for (name)” with no policies at all from the van’s loudspeaker makes me think that those things actually suit the politicians with their complete lack of ideas of how to improve Japan, but it also of course might have contributed to the lack of actual policies.

According to yesterday’s International Herald Tribune, the white gloves stand for clean government and the laws restricting campaigning were meant to level the playing field between rich and poor candidates.

Why did Japanese immigrants assimilate so well?

You wouldn’t think that Japanese could assimilate if you were in a predominantly Japanese area of Bangkok or Seoul, and people said exactly the same thing about first generation Japanese in Hawaii, California and Brazil, e.g. “Oliveira Viana, a Brazilian jurist, historian and sociologist described the Japanese immigrants as follows: ‘They (Japanese) are like sulfur: insoluble’.”

Now, however, 61% of great-grandchildren of Japanese immigrants in Brazil have at least some non-Japanese blood, 60% of Japanese-Brazilians are Roman Catholics (only 25% being adherents of a Japanese religion), and the third generation, however, are most likely monolingual in Portuguese. Similar things are true in other countries, for example church going in Japanese immigrants and their descendants in Hawaii and California being much higher than continued belief in Buddhism, let alone Shinto.

I put both the early and more recent histories down the Japanese desire to blend in with society, because in the early days for most people that society would have been just their immigrant community but sooner or later the society to blend in with would be seen (consciously or unconsciously) as the local community.

Most info above from Wikipedia, but all speculation entirely my own.

Why do Japanese farmers have so much electoral power?

Believe it or not, it’s the Americans’ fault again:

“disparities in Japan’s election system have long favored conservative rural districts over urban ones by giving them a disproportinately large number of representatives in the Diet, Japan’s Parliament. Those inequalities… date from U.S. occupation policies after World War II aimed at turning farmers into a powerful anti-Communist voting bloc”

From this weekend’s International Herald Tribune

Why does cos-play have a (semi-) English name?

It could be because the idea also came from an English speaking country, if this story from a recent edition of the BBC Radio programme Boston Calling is be be believed:

“Some early Japanese fans went to Star Trek conventions, saw them dressing up in the US and brought that back to Japan”

Cos-play is short for “costume play” and in Japanese means any kind of dressing up, unlike its English language use only for anime-related dressing up since it was borrowed (back?) from Japanese.

Why do foreigners use the word keitai?

These are the Japanese words which from my experience are most common in conversations between two English speakers who have been in Japan for a fair while:


manshon/ apaato


kare raisu



Less common:


Some are quite easy to explain. For example, “apaato” and “manshon” aren’t strictly translatable into Japanese, and rice ball is a horribly clumsy expression for “onigiri”. “Konbini” is probably a combination of being easier to say than “convenience store” and the stores seeming somehow different to and/ or more common than those back home. Why “keitai”, though? It does seem to be the same with use of the word “handy” for English-speaking people in Germany, so maybe it’s something to do with the switchover happening while many of the expats who set the trend already being in the country.

Meanings/ Origins of Japanese company names post much expanded

Still needs a lot of work, though, so questions and corrections here please:

Japanese company names explained

Why do Japanese medicals check for stomach cancer not bowel cancer?

hence the horrible (and not always pointed out – optional) barium drinks:

“Japan has one of the highest rates of stomach cancer in the world, due to the Japanese diet: low in fat but high in salt and nitrates from traditionally preserved fish and vegetables.

Westerners have much lower rates of stomach cancer and so almost no medical back home would include a stomach screening by X-ray…

Meanwhile, the situation is reversed for colon cancers. These are much more common in the West due to the meat- and fat-rich diet favored there. When past a certain age, anyone eating a Western diet should have some form of colon cancer screening.

This is offered by the UK’s National Health Service to those who are over 60 years of age, while U.S. gastroenterologists recommend that patients aged over 50 have regular colonoscopies. Even an elaborate medical check in Japan may neglect this area.”

From British Chamber of Commerce Japan Acumen newsletter, and also stolen by JapanToday here:

What to expect when you’re undergoing a medical check up in Japan?

This topic also came up a few posts ago here, if you want to scan down the page for more.

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